Sunday, March 31, 2013

Easter 2013

The girls were a little disappointed that the Easter Bunny didn't leave anything this morning. We're sneaky parents, though, and had their baskets all ready to go so after we sent them to get in the car so we could go to church we pulled out the baskets and quickly hid Easter eggs all around the house.

Miriam was the first one inside after church. She had picked a flower and was on a mission to put it in a cup of water as quickly as she could. She walked right past the row of Easter baskets on the bench without even noticing them. They had to be drawn to her attention.

The Resurrection

I gave a talk in sacrament meeting today. I've never been one of those people who can write five or six words on a piece of paper, call it an outline, and then spend the next hour orating. Andrew is, so he doesn't understand why I have to painstakingly type up every single idea I want to say at the pulpit beforehand. I need coherent sentences in front of me because otherwise no coherent sentences come out. I read my talk—though I will admit that I did treat some paragraphs as outlines and tried just speaking, I am much more comfortable reading it word for word—and while I read I fidgeted.

I played with my wedding ring. I crossed one leg behind the other. Then I switched my legs and curled the corner of the paper with my thumb. It was quite possibly the longest fifteen minutes of my life. But it's over!

Non-camping, Part II

On Saturday we took the girls to Wilmington Raleigh to enjoy some beachfront museums. Had the forecast been a little drier and warmer, our plan was to drive to the beach after ballet lessons and enjoy the day there. As it turned out, the forecast was wet and cold so instead we struck off for Raleigh to visit the North Carolina Museum of History.

Our girls both managed to be remarkably cool-headed through all our plan-changing.

Ballet was wonderful and the car ride to Raleigh didn't even feel too long. Rachel read to herself for a while (what did we do before literacy happened?) and she and Rachel played with some fluffy toy chicks they scored at the Sunbeam Egg Hunt.

We had a picnic outside of the capitol building and enjoyed playing around on the grounds outside.

Here are Rachel, Miriam, and Benjamin playing Roll Your Hands together:

Non-camping and Easter Eggs

Weeks ago we made plans to go beach camping this weekend. It was above 70 during the day and staying fairly warm at night when we booked our campsite. I found a decent tent on Craigslist for dirt cheap. The girls didn't have rehearsal for their ballet performance. Everything was perfect—we were going to begin spring break with a bang!

But then the weather turned cold again and the forecast for the beach was cold and rainy.

So we wimped out and stayed at home.

Naturally we were all terribly disappointed (some more than others, as I'm sure you can imagine) so alternate plans were made and carried out.

When Andrew and I announced to the girls that we were cancelling the camping trip we made a number of promises: we could go to the Life and Science Museum! We could roast hot dogs and make s'mores at home! We could set the tent up in the living room and sleep inside!

The Museum worked out well. It was super crowded, but I think that's because everyone is on spring break this week and the museum is popular, anyway. I drove the kids to the museum after the egg hunt and Andrew met us at the museum after his class. The only kink in our plan was that the parking lot was completely full. I had to wait for someone to leave in order for them to take their spot and...well...

Let's just say that I'm terrible at parking.

I parked successfully, meaning that I didn't hit any other vehicles, but I was so crooked that my neighbours didn't have half a chance of pulling out and I was so close to the car on my left that I couldn't even open my door to get out. There was no way I was going to be able to back up the car on my own so I swallowed my pride, threw the car into park, hopped out of the passenger side, flagged down the next family who came walking my way, and asked if they wouldn't mind fixing my terrible, terrible parking job.

It was really terrible so they happily obliged. The wife took all the kids and headed off to her car while the husband climbed in through the passenger side of my van and parked it properly.

Thanks, strangers!

The museum was fun, as it normally is. We spent our time outside because it was beautiful and because if you have to be surrounded by swarms of people it's better out than in (at least, I think so).

Benjamin's still a little young for most of the activities. He spent a lot of time playing with his seat belt and people watching...

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Sunbeam Egg Hunt

Just as I'm always raving about how wonderful Rachel's kindergarten teacher is and how lucky we were that Rachel was put in her class, I now have to boast about how wonderful Miriam's Sunbeams teacher is and how lucky we are that Miriam was put in her class.

If these two women were the only people you ever met in your entire life, you'd be completely convinced that the world is full of wonderful people. I know a lot of terrible things happen in the world, but good things still happen and wonderful people still exist and these teachers my daughters have are just amazing!

This morning, Miriam's Sunbeams teacher hosted an Easter egg hunt at her house for all the cute kids in her class. She didn't have to—she's only asked to teach them on Sundays—but she is the most wonderful lady and has completely adopted all of her little sunbeamers as extra grandchildren and by extension I think she's also adopted the previous generation because she hugged everyone before they left, including all the moms.

She never raised any children of her own, which just boggles my mind because she has all those little sunbeams trailing after her like the Pied Piper all the time, and was really nervous to take on this assignment, but she's doing a great job! She's married to a man who had already finished raising his kids—and they just recently moved up to North Carolina from Florida to be closer to their daughter, who is in our ward, and whose son is in Miriam's sunbeams class.

Anyway...this sweet couple dyed a bunch of eggs, bought a bunch of candy, hid it all over their yard, and invited five sunbeams, plus all their siblings. They had individual chocolate bunnies hidden for each of the little ones (three and under) and had little treat bags made up for all the older siblings (five and up). They knew exactly who was coming knew all the children by name and made them each feel so welcome and special.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Ramblings about school

I was going to write a blog post about how annoyed I was with school fundraisers a few weeks ago when Rachel was sent home with the task of selling cookie dough (for only 40% of the profit). This was during a book sale (when we'd just had a book sale a couple of months before), after a "night out" event, after magazine subscriptions, after a Christmas stuff sale...

Since the cookie dough, they've had a school dance ($5 per child!), another thing that I can't remember, and now they're gearing up for their Spring Fling and are asking families to contribute an item or $5 for a themed basket to be raffled off.

I understand that Rachel's school needs money, but—holy hannah!—I think they might have their fingers in a few too many pies there. Maybe they should try to limit themselves to one fundraising event per month, focus a little.

I think the raffle is an excellent idea and we'll definitely be contributing to that. Rachel really wanted to go to the dance (it was grades K–2) but it was the night of the ward Easter party so she couldn't, otherwise I probably would have let her, even though it cost $5 per child and snacks were only for purchase (snarl—y'all have the sound equipment and music so why not $2 per child so that they could pull it out of their own piggy banks?). The cookie dough sale, though? That really got my dander up.

"40% of the profit goes to your school!" they promised.

Awesome. So let's say that I work my tail end off, dragging my child around door-to-door selling cookie dough (because "only sell to people you know!" and we know six people in this state so Rachel can't exactly wander the neighbourhood selling cookie dough) and I get in $50 worth of cookie dough (that's about four orders (2/3 of our 6 neighbourhood contacts were feeling generous enough to spend $13–$18 on a couple dozen cookies that day)) that means the school only gets...$20.

Aren't there laws against child labour for this very reason?

Wouldn't my five-year-old essentially be working for this cookie company for free? Because the cookie company...they just earned $30 (which is more than the school got) and they didn't even have to work to sell their product because we did it for them.

Yeah. We obviously didn't go out selling cookie dough.

But I'll tell you what we did do. We hopped on and found an awesome deal for bulk glue sticks. We bought three cases for around $20 and donated those to Rachel's school.

If I was going to spend x-amount of time to give her school 40% of my efforts anyway, I could also just spend 100% of x-amount of my money on the school. The way I figure it, my $20 worth of glue sticks was really $50 worth of cookie dough, anyway. I think. If my math's right. It might not be. Whatever.

This week I also volunteered in Rachel's classroom for their "class snack." The school district is cracking down on unhealthy party foods so Rachel and I came up with some healthy snacks to offer her fellow students. Popcorn, apple slices, cheese sticks, and...vegetable flowers.

Door ajar

I woke up this morning gripping my sheets, with chills running down my spine, and adrenaline coursing through my veins. The sound I heard was one I often hear in my nightmares—a door being forced open. Alert as possible, but still very groggy, I elbowed Andrew.

"Someone opened the door!" I hissed at him.

"What?" he moaned.

"Someone just opened the door!" I whispered in a panic.

"What?!" he whispered back, panic rising in his voice.

"The door is open," I explained, keeping my voice low.

Andrew sat up in bed and looked at the front door. Having the advantage of 20/20 vision he wasn't busy frantically feeling around for his glasses and could check. We can see our front door from our room.

"It's not open. Go back to sleep."

"The back door, then!" I insisted. "I heard a door open!"

The sounds I hear in the middle of the night are not to be trifled with—because once I heard an attempted murder (just a domestic dispute...involving a butcher big deal)—and ever since then when I say I hear sounds in the middle of the night my husband believes me and feels obligated to check things out. He's nice like that.

So, sighing a little, he got out of bed to investigate the backdoor. I tiptoed behind him.

When I saw a sliver of sunshine spilling across the kitchen floor, I froze and quickly scanned the room for a weapon. The nearest thing to me was a nice, cushy yoga mat, all rolled up and ready to go. I picked that up and wielded it like a baseball bat, ready to lash out at any intruder (never mind the cast-iron fire poke that was just a few feet further away (a yoga mat makes a much better weapon—obviously)).

Andrew glanced around the house, confused that no one seemed to be inside. Figuring the perp must still be outside, he turned the lock on the bottom handle and prepared to slam the door, shutting the villain out of our lives for good.

That's when he saw...

Monday, March 25, 2013

So now we eat graham crackers

Miriam had gotten some graham crackers out to munch on while I was hanging up the laundry (a bit of a gamble today, considering the stormy clouds on the horizon) and while Benjamin was supposed to be napping. By the time I'd finished hanging up the laundry there were cracker crumbs all over the table and Benjamin was wide awake and playing in his crib (I had almost hoped he'd fallen back asleep because he had been screaming minutes earlier, but no—he'd just found something entertaining to do).

I got Benjamin up and put him in his seat at the table while I made some official lunch for me and Miriam.

Next thing I know, Miriam's shrieking with joy.

"Mom! He likes graham crackers! He's eating it! Good chewing, little buddy!"

"Did you give him a graham cracker?" I asked.

She creatively denied this charge (since she knows it's against the rule to give Benjamin anything to eat). "I didn't give him a cracker!" she insisted. "I just put it in front of him and now he's eating it!"

So in other gave him a cracker. Oh, well. It was bound to happen sooner or later. And he loved it. He loved it so much that I gave him a second one. And I took five million pictures of him (to make up for the guilt of only taking one picture of him at the Easter egg hunt, perhaps). You get seven of them, which is probably six too many...

Sunday, March 24, 2013

The Easter Party

The first part of the Easter party was an egg hunt for the kids. It was kind of chaotic, as all egg hunts seem to be, but I think the kids all had fun. We had kids three and under in one area, kids four through seven in another area, and kids eight through eleven in another.

Andrew was out getting ice so I was left to divide myself between three children during the egg hunt, which doesn't work out so well if you do the math. I helped Miriam figure out what to do—pick up the eggs, not that difficult—and then left her in the care of her Sunbeam teachers while I went to check on Rachel.

Just my boys

Andrew fell asleep at his desk yesterday. He was reading a boring article. Apparently it was very boring.

Here's a little glimpse at Benjamin's two front teeth:

They've just broken through in the past couple of days. His gums are still pretty raw, poor boy.

It's kind of weird that he got his front teeth first. Both the girls got their eyeteeth before their front teeth, which is what happened with me and at least three of my siblings. I was totally expecting Benjamin to get his teeth in the same fashion but he broke the mold and got his front teeth first, perhaps taking after Andrew's teething order.

It's funny to look in his mouth and see such big teeth in there. Rachel has the same size of teeth and hers look so tiny! I suppose that has to do with variation in their head sizes. Rachel's head is much bigger than Benjamin but she still has all her deciduous teeth (and she's anxiously awaiting the autumn of her babyhood (one of her friends at church just lost her first tooth today and Rachel's beyond jealous)).

And here's Benjamin enjoying some green beans:

He loves them any way he can get them, from mashed to whole (and anywhere in between). 

Rachel's talk

Here's the talk that Rachel gave today in primary. It was fun to sit down and write this with her. She is a very wise girl.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

This week

We had our ward Easter party last night and I am so glad it's over. The feeling I had was one of sweet relief. The primary presidency was in charge of this little shin-dig. I'm in the primary presidency. Ergo...

"I feel," I told Andrew last night, "Like someone has been throwing peaches at me and they finally stopped."

"Peaches?" he asked. "Because, like, they're gross and hairy and mushy and the pits?"

Andrew doesn't like peaches. Unless they're canned.

"No," I said. "Because right now I'm just like, 'Khookh!"

Andrew burst out laughing. He was laughing so hard that tears were streaming down his cheeks. It's an old joke of ours, along with feeling like eggs are being thrown at you (Oeuf, oeuf, oeuf!) because, you see خوخ means peach in Arabic and is said khookh (just like oeuf means egg in French and is said oof).

Ordinarily Andrew would have picked up on this joke right away, in fact, he's usually the one to bring it up at all since my default noise of exasperation is khookh but we went to bed super late last night because Les Mis (the movie) was released on Amazon last night so we rented it and watched it and it was awesome. Besides the couple of times we've gotten bo-berry biscuits, last night was the first night we've spent money on a date since the one time we went out to breakfast while Benjamin was in the NICU last summer.

Let's see, this has been a busy week and a busy day. I almost put Benjamin in the bathtub fully clothed this evening. He saw nothing amiss with that idea. I only noticed just in the nick of time.

Here's a few highlights of my week:

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

The Incomprehensive Field Guide to Our Backyard

When we lived in British Columbia, our backyard was more or less a swamp. At any rate, it was a lawnless mess—we did have moss and buttercups and equisetum and things, but it was mostly rocks and dirt.

And we thought it was great! It made the perfect jurassic-era backdrops for our toy dinosaurs and this one time my dad dug a huge pit, trying to get out a rock (which he claimed must've been part of the Canadian Shield at some point), but it never mattered how many holes we dug because once we were finished digging and making a big mess back there, we'd just fill in our holes and they'd get recovered with bog-loving "weeds" and we all lived happily ever after.

Except for the one time that my little brother, who was two at the time, was caught eating some mushrooms he'd found. After a bit of a panic, he was taken to the hospital where it was determined that the mushrooms must not have been toxic because he was just fine.

But it's important to know what grows in your backyard, especially when your little ones can't keep things out of their mouths.

In Alberta and Utah yard weeds are fairly boring. Besides grass, dandelions are plentiful (and edible) and thistles are prickly (and edible should a baby decide to brave the prickles). I don't know—I never really noticed much of anything growing besides grass (though we did have mushrooms in Orem...and morning glory, come to think of it). At any rate, it didn't seem too difficult to keep questionable plants out of my children's mouths in Utah. I don't know if it was simply because I was more familiar with the local plants or if it's because Benjamin's more of an oral explorer than his sisters but whatever the cause I am suddenly hyper aware of the smorgasbord that surrounds him.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Another Artwork Palooza

Here's a picture Miriam drew today of our family hunting for leprechaun gold in the clover in the backyard:

She wrote "To: Mommy" and "Miriam Heiss" in fancy bubble letters. That's what AMOMY MiAiR HSEIS means when it's decoded, in case you were wondering. And, yes, she taped hand-picked clover to the paper. Just for me.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

St. Patrick's Day

Last night just as I was trying to fall asleep Andrew whispered, "You know, I think I might go for father-of-the-year tomorrow."

"How are you going to do that?" I asked sleepily.

"I'm going to get up early and make green pancakes for breakfast."

"You're not going to get up early and make green pancakes for breakfast," I laughed, now wide awake.

"You're right," he said. "I'm not."

That man doesn't voluntarily get up early, but even without green pancakes we had a great St. Patrick's Day. Andrew got the girls cereal while I showered. He slipped green food colouring into their milk, which got them as equally excited about the day as green pancakes would have.

Then I helped Rachel into her green velvet dress while Miriam threw a fit because she couldn't understand how the world would be so cruel as to dictate that she must wear a certain colour on any given day. She wanted to wear pink but she also didn't want to get pinched and it was such a dilemma.

Finally, she settled on wearing a pink dress and pinning the clover I'd made for Rachel to the front. She also picked out a green necklace. And some earrings.

The girls helped me work on some posters for the ward Easter party I'm helping put together. This month I have that party to plan as well as a little "class snack" for Rachel's class.

"This feels overwhelming," I told Andrew yesterday.

"You're an introvert," he reminded me.

He also told me that they won't be opening the community pool until the middle of May (because it would be too cold before then...apparently) and that they'd be having a neighbourhood pool party with everyone invited (not just those who buy the pool pass) and they'd have a barbeque and swimming and neighbourly togetherness and I said, "Why would we want to go to that? The pool will be packed!"

"What do you want—the pool all to yourself?"


"You're such an introvert," he said.

"Yup," I said.

Anyway, the girls helped me start the posters for the Easter party and we finished them up during stake conference. I figured the girls would be colouring anyway so it wouldn't hurt to colour something productive.

When we got home, it was surprisingly early. We'd started church an hour earlier than usual and it was only two hours long instead of three so we ended up getting home at about the same time we'd usually be getting out of sacrament meeting. It was kind of nice.

Andrew, who is still sick with this nasty cold, fell asleep after lunch (for three hours) so I was left to try and entertain the children in a quiet enough fashion that he could keep sleeping. We went for a walk, but before we did, I made up some leprechaun coins and hid them in the backyard, which is currently covered in clover.

Socio-Economic Status and Language Development: Definitely Linked

I spent (some) the day dinking around on the internet, trying to find some good studies about how child-directed speech is impacted by caregivers and also poverty. Unfortunately, while there's some pretty decent stuff just floating around a lot of it is locked away in databases that want $35 per article, which seems a little steep (lame article —> lame(r?) article —> lots of searching —> huzzah! —> What the $35!?). But then I remembered that my husband is a student at a university with a very good library and so gaining access to those articles suddenly got a lot cheaper (if you consider getting a PhD inexpensive, which I guess it is since they're paying us (ie. him) to do it).

So, here's my first attempt (in a long time) at researching. Things are a little different this time because Benjamin's strapped to my chest...because I've already nursed him to sleep (twice) and put him down (twice) but you'd never know that from how he screams once he realizes he's been put down. He reacts to being placed in his cozy crib similarly to how you or I would react to having one of our fingers bit off rather than being fed liquid gold until we drifted off into a blissful slumber.

Wrapping him in a handmade quilt is as good as a water-board treatment. Closing the door with me on the other side of it? It's like a death sentence. He starts screaming for mercy. And doesn't stop. For anything. Ever.

So, here's my first attempt at researching with a baby strapped to my chest, who desperately wants to bang on the keyboard but is settling for scratching up my forearms. (They're both favourite activities of his.) My hat is off to mothers in school everywhere.


At Benjamin's nine-month well-baby visit, we were given a stack of papers of advice about how to raise a happy child. Besides cautioning me to lower his crib and keep poisons well out of reach, it had the following suggestions:

  • Read books daily to your child. Allow the child to touch, mouth, and point to objects. Choose books with pictures, colors, and textures.
  • Recite nursery rhymes and sing songs with your child. Avoid using "baby talk."
  • Name objects consistently and describe what you are doing while bathing, eating, dressing, and playing.
  • Introduce the child to a second language, if one is spoken in the household.
  • Sleep. 
  • [This bullet has been omitted since it was rather lengthy and talked about sleeping, not language development (though I'm sure sleep is necessary for language development to occur I'm not sure that not co-sleeping is).]
  • Minimize television time! Children at this age need active play and social interaction (Well Child Care, 9 Months. ExitCare Patient Information, 2012).
As a veteran parent (ie. I'm multipara and all my offspring are living) most of the advice seemed completely obvious and normal except for one sentence: avoid using "baby talk." 

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Breastfeeding and Iron

I recently wrote a guest post about breastfeeding for a friend's blog, which actually didn't generate too much conversation, which might be due to the fact that the first post on breastfeeding spawned a huge 90+ comment thread on my friend's facebook wall and I think people were bowing out of the conversation by the time I entered it. He asked me to contribute because people kept bringing up the Middle East as an example, though none of them had ever been there.

For the most part, I feel like I've been supported through my breastfeeding years but that might have changed this past week.

"How long do you plan on breastfeeding him?" our pediatrician asked.

"Oh, however long he wants," I told her.

"How long did you breastfeed your other children?" she asked.

"About 18 months for Rachel and nearly two years for Miriam."

"Oh! Well, you don't have to do that, you know," she told me as if she was letting me in on a little secret. "You can wean him onto whole milk at 12 months."

I stared at her and blinked my eyes, unsure of what to say next. It was she who broke the awkward silence by stammering, "But of course 'breast is best.' You just can introduce whole milk at 12 months."

Sometimes I don't say anything when I should say something. Other times I say things when I ought not. Even other times I don't explain myself well enough.

Communication is a bear.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Towhead. Toe-thumbs. Thumb-head.

While we were getting dinner ready the girls were trying to help but were mostly running around bumping into things. No sooner had Rachel stubbed her toe and begun wailing than did Miriam slam her fingers in the silverware drawer. Her screaming brought Andrew running from his desk (Rachel's were, I suppose, less panic-inducing). He scooped her up into her arms and attempted to introduce some humor in order to dry her tears.

"What finger did you smash?" he asked.

"All of them!" she wailed.

"On both hands!?" he gasped in mock alarm.

"No, just this one!" she sniffed.

"Just this thumb?"

"No! All of my fingers on this hand!" she said, dangling her arm in front of his face.

"Well, how'd your toes get in the drawer?!"

"Not my toes!" she giggled.

"Oh, I see. Not your toes. A wisp of tow!" said Daddy, quoting Brothers Karamazov and tousling Miriam's golden locks. "My little towhead."

"I'm not a toe-head," Miriam insisted.

"If she's a toe-head, what am I?" Rachel interjected. "A finger-head?"

"No. You're just a brunette," Andrew said. "But Mommy's got toe-thumbs" he pointed out.

"Then I'm a thumb-head!" Miriam said with finality, sticking her thumb in her mouth and talking around it. "See?"

"And I'm a finger-head!" Rachel declared.

"There's no such thing!" Andrew objected. "Towhead doesn't even refer to body parts at all—it just means yellowish hair!"

But his protest did no good. It's quite possible our children went to bed thinking that blondes are toe-heads and brunettes are thumb-heads.

Luck of the Irish

Last night I stayed up late to finish embellishing a shirt for Rachel to wear to school today. She told me earlier this week that for "Fun Friday" her class was planning a St. Patrick's Day Parade and that everyone was supposed to wear green. The only problem was that she doesn't have any green clothes (besides a green velvet dress that I wasn't about to send her to school in) so we got out the little knifty knitter she got for Christmas and she set to work making a little green tube. She didn't get very far and we kept putting that project off in favour of others until it was literally the midnight hour.

I pulled it out last night and worked on it while I rocked the baby and read some articles and eventually got the baby to sleep and finished a tube long enough to work with. I fashioned a little clover (initially she asked me if I could make a camera for her to wear to school—some odd meld of (clover + shamrock)—and was very upset when I couldn't understand why she needed to wear a camera to school) and then I sewed it onto her shirt (which she was very worried about because sewing is rather permanent in her mind).

She was quite happy with the results this morning, though her face doesn't quite show it (she's not entirely a morning person):

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Tripod Turkeys

Ever since mid-October our house has been littered with turkeys. Rachel had remembered from Thanksgivings previous about that little turkey craft, the one where you trace your hand and turn it into a turkey. She taught this craft to Miriam who has been turning them out non-stop since.

Here's one she drew for me just the other day:

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

A Picnic at West Point (on the Eno)

Yesterday was supposed to be lovely outside so we planned some yard projects; the weather ended up being overcast and windy and not much fun. Today the forecast was rain, rain, and more rain. It rained all morning, but the afternoon was glorious, so after Rachel came home from school we packed a quick picnic dinner (egg salad sandwich for Dad, tuna fish sandwiches for the rest) and headed to the park.

Benjamin at 9 months

This morning Benjamin slept solidly from just before 6:00 until 8:45, which meant that I did, too, which was only slightly problematic because everyone else did, too, and Rachel's bus came and left without her (at 8:10) and the school bell was due to ring at 9:00.

Andrew ended up driving her to school and she was only a tiny bit late.

Then Benjamin took a nap! And I did, too.

We slept until the early afternoon, when it was time to get ready for his doctor appointment. The 9-month check up is such a lame appointment. They measured him, the doctor looked at him, he got floride on his two little teeth, and we were sent on our way (with a book).

This boy is closing in on 17 lbs! I could hardly believe the scale—16 lbs and 15.3 oz! That's the 9th percentile for his age. So he's basically huge. Except when it comes to height. He's only 66 cm (or 25.98 inches (we're really exact at this clinic)), which is still off the charts low (so definitely in the 0th percentile). His head is shrinking a bit...or at least not growing as fast as it used to be. It's 44.5 cm (33rd percentile).

He's a bit behind on some developmental milestones, though right on target for others.

He doesn't crawl or pull up on furniture yet, but he's good at bearing weight on his legs and he can make his way just about anywhere he wants to be. He can even roll his way through doorways—he's got good aim for someone who travels in such a dizzying manner.

I've even caught him scooting...on his back. He just lays on his back and pushes himself with his legs, going wherever his head is pointing. It's kind of funny to watch and he's only done it a couple of times.

He can shake, bang, and throw objects. Check and double check. We're all about shaking, banging, and throwing over here.

He doesn't exactly feed himself finger foods...because he doesn't exactly eat very much. But he can do the pincher grasp and does occasionally drink from a cup. Our doctor would like us to start him on a multi-vitamin, with iron, and I'm not sure how I feel about this. She doesn't think he's getting a varied enough diet. I feel like he's doing just fine and if he wanted to eat more solids, he would. He's totally happy nursing at the table and doesn't often request more than that. He eats something other than breast milk almost every day. She doesn't think he's getting enough protein, but I think he's fine—I never really fed the girls any meat until they could chew, anyway. And doesn't breast milk have protein in it? Mine's lik 50% cream so I'm pretty sure he's getting enough calories...and according to the paper a serving size for him is only half to one tablespoon so I'm sure he's getting at least one (maybe two) servings of "other" stuff when he does eat other stuff. I'm not too worried about his diet.

He's got full-fledged stranger anxiety, and prefers his mommy to anyone else. But there are some things that can pull his attention away from me. For example, at church on Sunday I was roaming the halls doing primary stuff and Andrew was roaming the halls doing fussy baby stuff and we happened to meet, which was detrimental to us both. I just continued walking beside Andrew and Benjamin until we were nearing the drinking fountain and as soon as I said, "Oh, do you want a drink?" he stopped reaching for me and started hunting for the drinking fountain. He loves the drinking fountain.

He doesn't say any actual words and his babbling is rather limited but no one seems to be too concerned about this. He says ah and oo and bah and pah and clicks his tongue. I've heard him cry out "ma" once or twice but it's not something he consistently says. He fake coughs. He makes weird cackling noises. And sometimes he'll do gah or lahs.

We're still waiting for any waving or clapping to occur and for him to initiate games of peek-a-boo.

He will, unclench his fists and let me help him clap his own hands. And he loves to clap his hands against mine. He thinks peek-a-boo is hilarious but we've only played it with a blanket, not hands. He loves "Here's a little bumble bee," "This Little Piggy," "Peas Porridge," "Round and Round the Garden," and "Pat a Cake," as well as "The Grand Ol' Duke of York," "Ride a Cock Horse," "If You're Happy and You Know it," "Jesus Wants Me for a Sunbeam," and a plethora of other game songs.

He responds to his own name...and many variations thereof: Ben, Benny, Benji, Benja-boy, Baby, Bubba.

Under the section about how to help my baby develop milestones on time, it gives several suggestions, such as reading aloud, reciting nursery rhymes, naming objects consistently, avoiding "baby talk" (they suggest that now?) and, my favourite bullet point, one word: Sleep.

I'm pretty sure that was meant to be the heading for the next section because the next several bullet points talk about encouraging children to sleep in their own beds. But I think before we encourage our child to sleep in his own bed we'll encourage him to sleep at all. Own bed? Sheesh.

So, I think he's doing well. Or at least well enough, considering he's allowed to be a couple of months behind developmentally.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Take Wednesday for example

Our house has been chaos this week.

After finally falling asleep with Benjamin on Wednesday morning, Miriam crawled into bed with us (while Andrew was with Rachel at the busstop). The odd thing was, she was fully clothed. That's odd because getting her out of her pyjamas is like pulling teeth.

"Why do you have clothes on?" I asked.

"'s morning. You just put your clothes on in the morning, Mom," she said matter-of-factly.

She had me there. That is what you do in the morning and it's what I've been suggesting she do in the mornings for a long time. I decided she was just finally following my advice and let is go.

Because we're running on no sleep and are all sick over here I crawled stealthily out of bed, careful to not wake Benjamin, and turned on a show for Miriam (Andrew left for class after Rachel's bus came) before returning for bed to sleep, or at least lie down for a while longer. I must have drifted off because the next thing I knew, Miriam's in our room again, this time holding her favourite blanket, all balled up in her arms.

"What should I do with my silky blankey?" she asked. "It's dirty."

"You should put it in the laundry," I told her. "I'll wash it today so you can have it back tonight. But what's on it? How did it get dirty?"

"Because it just is, Mom" she explained to me in the same patronizing tone she'd adopted earlier. "Sometimes things get dirty."

"But how did it get dirty?" I pressed.

"It just got some dirty stuff on it."

I only found out what it was when I went into her room to collect the laundry, which was wet, and smelled of urine.

"Did you wet the bed?" I asked over and over until she stopped denying and answered that she had.

"Okay. I juuuust pee-peed in my bed because I couldn't make it to the toilet."

"But why couldn't you?" I asked.

"Because. People can't always just use the toilet, you know."

Fabulous. And honest. But wouldn't it be great if they could always use a toilet of sorts. I know I'd appreciate that.

So we washed her sheets and I considered stripping Rachel's bed as well but thought better of it. Washing sheets is always bad karma for our house so I only ever wash them when they need it (which means, if things are going well, that our sheets will go several weeks between washings).

Late on Wednesday, when I was up with a screaming Benjamin, Rachel stumbled out of her room gasping for air and dripping vomit all over creation. Andrew ushered her into the shower while I did something with Benjamin so that I could help clean up the throw up. I can't even remember what. He'd been screaming so loudly that we'd hardly even heard Rachel coughing (which is why she threw up (because she was coughing, not because we couldn't hear her)) and in spite of having a throw up bowl in her bed (like she usually does) she just threw up all over the place (*sigh*).

Fortunately, she didn't drip onto Miriam's bed this time so Miriam got to sleep through the whole linen-changing ordeal. It took two loads to wash everything (comforter, pillow cases, sheets, dolls, blankets, and so forth) and I'm only grateful that I had Rachel make her bed that afternoon otherwise it would have been a lot worse (she threw a bunch of her stuffed animals on the floor before making her bed and so those got put in the toy box instead of back in her bed, which meant they didn't get thrown up on).

I felt so vindicated in my decision to not wash Rachel's sheets because if there's anything I hate worse than washing sheets it's washing sheets...and then washing them again the very same day!

And...Miriam wet the bed a second time this week. I can't remember which day (was it Friday?). I do know that Andrew washed the sheets (and the diapers and did three loads of clothes) because I almost started crying when she came into our bedroom fully dressed, bright and early in the morning (as in before our alarm had even gone off).

"This is not what I need!" I said, tears filling my eyes. "I can't do it! I can't not sleep and wash the diapers and do the regular laundry and wash the sheets three times in one week. I can't!"

"I'll do it," Andrew offered, getting out of bed.

And that's why I love Spring Break.

And also my husband.

Weekly Wrap-up

So, Benjamin just woke up screaming again. I can't even tell you how old this is getting.

I've been sick all week—and I'm sure he's the reason because he's been sick as well. And also because he never sleeps (or wakes up at regular intervals for screaming sessions) which means I never sleep which means my immune system is shot. With this cold I've basically become narcoleptic, which is why I haven't been blogging. Because when he's awake and I'm awake I can blog but after getting sick it seems the minute he falls asleep I do, too.

A couple of nights ago I fell asleep in the rocking chair while I was rocking Benjamin during family scripture study. Andrew got the kids to bed. Benjamin and I woke up later to party suffer together. We sleep at all the randome times during the day that we can manage, which means that sometimes I don't go to bed until six in the morning and wake up at ten to begin my day, which is kind of odd.

And now here I am, doing another weekly wrap-up, which probably won't even end up wrapping up our week at all...

Thursday was Andrew's first unofficial day of Spring Break. He still went to school, but he took a nap before he left the house. And Miriam made a fort out of him.

Monday, March 04, 2013

Rocking horse, body armor, norovirus

Today Benjamin inherited a fabulous rocking horse from my friend Kim. I don't think he's even aware it's a horse but Benjamin loves it regardless.

Sleep is for the birds

Saturday night was a rough night—which is kind of par for the course at our house. Not only did a wrestle with getting Benjamin to sleep until 3:00 in the morning (he mastered the phoneme "ba" at approximately 1:30 and practiced it for a good hour and a half before drifting off into a restless sleep), Miriam got up in the middle of the night for something (which is super rare for her), and then Benjamin was up again just a while later, and then again a while later, and then I finally, finally had him settled down and Rachel got up to find breakfast for herself.

She settled on oatmeal. The problem with this was that the only thing she's ever made in the microwave has been quesadillas so she wasn't really sure how to cook the oatmeal (note to self: remind her that now that she can read she should read). She opened the packet and dumped it into a bowl and added some water and then put it in the microwave...for ten seconds.

The microwave beeped. She opened it to check her oatmeal, and lo! Her oatmeal wasn't finished.

Ten more seconds. More beeping. More checking, which meant more banging.

Ten more seconds. More beeping. More banging.

"Rachel!" I called out as loudly as I could without endangering the fragile sleep Benjamin had just fallen into. She appeared in my doorway. "Just set the timer for one minute."

"How long is that?"

"One minute is sixty seconds. You can type one, zero, zero or you can type six, zero."

"One, zero, zero. Got it."

She went back to the microwave. Beep, beep, beep, beep.

"Oh, no! I hit zero too many times! Reset, reset, reset...where are you?!" she muttered to herself/the reset button.

"Right next to the zero," I called out as loudly/softly as I could.

Beep, beep, beep. *pause* Beep!

With the sounds of the microwave whirring, confident that my very capable child had really only typed one, zero, zero, I fell back to sleep so quickly it was like I had plummeted off a cliff or something. Unfortunately and evidently I was bungee jumping in my sleep because no sooner had I fallen asleep was I yanked back wide awake again.

"CARDINAL!" Rachel squealed, while jumping up and down at the foot of our bed. "Right on the deck!"

"What?" I croaked, squinting at her through my tired, tired eyelids.

"There's a cardinal on our deck. I thought you might want to know. You like cardinals."

Sunday, March 03, 2013

Artwork Palooza

To commemorate our segue from Little House to Harry Potter, the girls each designed a bookmark (perhaps partially motivated by Benjamin eating the bookmark we'd used through the Little House series). Rachel signed her bookmark on behalf of both herself and Miriam. She wrote mom in bubble letters to show Miriam how such things are done properly.

Books and Ballet

We finished reading the last book in the Little House series on Thursday night. Andrew insists that we read Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban next in preparation for some adventures this summer. There is still so much of the wizarding world that Rachel has yet to discover—like Hogsmeade—because through books one and two our heroic trio are stuck on Hogwart's campus. We've been so focused on Little House, however, that we felt we could all use a refresher course so this weekend we watched both Harry Potter 1 and 2 (over two evenings).

Yesterday we told the girls they had to clean up before they could watch the movie and they had the entire house spick and span before I'd even finished nursing Benjamin. We let them eat dinner in front of the TV, which they always find exciting.

This evening they were disappointed when we announced that dinner would be held at the table but they got over their disappointment in time to watch the movie. It was hard for both of them to stay awake—Miriam actually had to go to bed before the movie was over—because they'd had such a long day!

They went to ballet in the morning and had had a rough time there. Miriam was having trouble listening and at the end of the lesson Rachel told her teacher that she didn't really like ballet—she was just doing it for Miriam.

We talked about it (both listening to our teacher and also about Rachel's uncommitted attitude about ballet) when they got home. Miriam's was a fairly easy conversation—just listen and obey, m'kay? Rachel's conversation was a little more complicated. See, I knew when we signed her up for ballet that she's really been wanting to try gymnastics. However, it was Rachel who found a ballet teacher. It was Rachel who asked the ballet teacher to teach her (and her sister) ballet. It was Rachel who begged to be allowed to audition for the performing company in addition to taking her class (while her parents were on the fence about it and her sister was clueless).

"What don't you like about ballet?" I asked.

"Tap," she sniffed.

Friday, March 01, 2013

This week

I feel like I don't have anything to write, which of course can't be true. There's always something to write about, isn't there? I think I remember feeling by Monday that Sunday had been ages ago and that I should probably write but I was so tired (because Benjamin didn't stop screaming and go to sleep until 3 AM on Monday morning) that when I found out that it was only Monday (still?) I decided that I could skip writing since Monday isn't that far away from Sunday. Now it's Friday Eve and I still haven't written since Sunday so I'll try to sum up the week.

Our blocks have paid for themselves several times over this week. They've been out every day this week, sometimes multiple times.